Last week I begged Persephone to return from the Underworld so Demeter would end the polar vortex. After some beseeching, I said that the people of Earth would continue uploading covers of “Let it Go,” Queen Elsa’s epic showstopper from Disney’s Frozen. Well, on Sunday, I woke up to freezing rain, which later turned into snow. So this happened. Idina Menzel I ain’t. I’m barely Adele Dazeem. But here is my goddess-trolling humble offering.
In case you have no children or internet (how are you reading this post again?) and thus haven’t seen the original version of this Oscar-winning anthem, here you go:
In news related only in the sense that it involves me putting things on the internet, I have a Facebook page now. It’ll feature all updates from this blog, some links from my other social media, and random stuff that I find interesting and relevant and think my readers might, too. It’ll also feature updates about Thalia’s Musings, of course, although there’s still the Thalia’s Musings Facebook page for that. So, if this sounds like something you want in your news feed, go forth and like!
As you may remember, I’ve been following Pemberley Digital’s latest webseries, Emma Approved. It’s a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, in which Emma is a professional matchmaker/life coach, Knightley is Emma’s business partner/accountant, and Harriet is Emma’s personal assistant.
In last Thursday’s episode, “Back in Business,” Harriet’s interpretation of Emma’s life coaching took the form of starting an online music club.
Harriet wrote a song, posted it on Emma’s YouTube channel, and included sheet music in the description so viewers could join her new club by uploading a cover.
So it came to pass that I spent my weekend joining a YouTube music club founded by a fictional character who originated in Regency England.
I’m on Harriet’s Twitter list and everything. ^_^ Want to play along? Click the image below for information at Emma’s website, and keep an eye on the hashtag #HarrietSongs on Twitter.
Can I just say this one more time, because I find it both baffling and awesome? Go to Emma Woodhouse’s website or Harriet Smith’s Twitter hashtag. Harriet Smith is following me on Twitter. Clueless has nothing on Emma Approved.
Clio, as I hope my Thalia’s Musings readers know, is the Muse of History. It’s quite evident that Clio and Thalia have both bestowed their blessings on Azie Dungey, creator and star of the historical comedy webseries Ask A Slave.
Ask A Slave is a comedy web series based on the actress’ experiences working at Mount Vernon portraying one of George Washington’s slaves. All questions and interactions are based on true life events. Watch Lizzie Mae, housemaid to President and Lady Washington, respond as modern-day Americans say the darndest things about history!
Lizzie Mae is fictional, but her awesomely snarky answers to modern Americans’ questions are based on extensive historical research. Sometimes her guests are as fictional as she is. Other times she interviews real historical figures like Seneca chief and dignitary Red Jacket, and abolitionist Tobias Lear. Lizzie Mae’s interviews challenge stereotypes about life in colonial America, especially in regard to race relations, in an engaging, entertaining way. I always laugh and I usually learn something when I watch them.
So, if you’re a fan of quirky web comedy videos and/or American history, check out Ask A Slave! Here’s the first episode to get you started:
And here’s one more shot of the lovely Azie just because:
But today I’m fangirling about StarKid’s latest production, Twisted: The Untold Story Of A Royal Vizier. It parodies both Wicked and Disney’s Aladdin, as indicated by the promo poster. It’s as affectionate and irreverent a parody as any of StarKid’s other works. Ja’far (not to be confused with the copyright-protected Jafar) gets the Elphaba treatment as the virtuous scapegoat for all the kingdom’s problems. His “scheming” is really applied poli sci, his “sorcery” is advanced science, and his “evilness” is a desire to rid the streets of criminals who steal bread from simple hard-working bakers. He also shares an unexpectedly poignant romance with Scheherazade of One Thousand and One Nights fame. Aladdin, tragically orphaned at 33, is a perfect satire of a douchy hipster trustfund baby who’s too cool to work for a living like everyone else. The Princess is every 16-year-old rich white privilege-checking Social Justice Warrior on Tumblr who dreams of saving the world but has a lot to learn about how it actually works. Since her name is never mentioned, I’m sure she is not the licensed Disney Princess Jasmine.
Want a quick sampler? Watch the opening number, with its profanity-laced classic Disney-style crowd song (the villagers do not greet Ja’far with “Bonjour”):
Or the balcony scene, which references pretty much every Disney moral panic conspiracy theory of the 90s:
Or this title-dropping gallery of Disney’s most fabulous villains:
This concept is very near the top of my “Why The Effing Hell Did I Not Think Of This First??” list. We all have Pinterest boards that in no way reflect our actual lives, right? If Pinterest had a dime for every not-engaged woman who has a wedding pinboard- oh, wait, it probably does. Anyway, freelance writer Tiffany Beveridge took the imaginary pinboard phenomenon and owned it. She does not have a daughter, toddler or otherwise. What she has is a pinboard dedicated to her nonexistent daughter named Quinoa (that’s pronounced “keen-wa,” for those of you who weren’t raised by crunchy moms).
Beveridge captions all the pins with quips and anecdotes about little Quinoa and her baby hipster friends who have names like Chevron and Hashtag. Whether you think little kids are automatically adorable and precious, or you’re perpetually annoyed by your parent friends’ social media, or both, you’ll likely find some lolz in #MIWDTD. You can follow Quinoa’s adventures in fashion on Tumblr,Twitter,Facebook, Instagram, and the pinboard that started it all. And in Spring 2014, Quinoa is coming to bookstores! As a fellow web creator, I’m totes not bitter always glad to see something that started as a social media joke seriously why the hell didn’t I think of it gain this kind of success. 😀
This one is pretty simple. At this link is a picture of Commander William T. Riker of the USS Enterprise. Scroll down to get a cheesy Riker grin captioned with a cheesy Riker pickup line. Make it so, Number One!
Do you like Batman? No? Begone, spambot! Yes? Then read on, O flesh and blood human, and behold the fancomic that is Batman and Sons.
This series, by deviantART user The-BlackCat, puts the comedy in comic books. The premise is Batman being a single dad to his three adopted Robins and the Batbaby that Selina Kyle left on the doorstep of Wayne Manor. Dick, the oldest, is responsible and brave, the quintessential all-American boy sidekick. Next is Jason, usually the instigator of whatever havoc he and his brothers are wreaking. Tim, the youngest Robin, is sweet, innocent, and optimistic. And baby Terry is freakin’ adorable.
The series has tons of cameos from the rest of the Justice League. The Wayne boys go to school with every superkid in the DC Universe. Bruce has an ongoing feud with Oliver Queen/Green Arrow. Catwoman drops in for unauthorized visits to her baby. And of course, you can’t have the Superfriends without Superman. Sound like fun? Then start here and prepare to lose the next several hours of your life.
Emma Approved is as distinct from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries as Emma is from Pride and Prejudice. While Lizzie Bennet was a struggling middle-class grad student with a snarky, cynical outlook on her world and its inhabitants, Emma Woodhouse is a successful yuppie overflowing with unchallenged optimism and eager to make everyone’s dreams come true. In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, William Darcy started off as Lizzie’s antagonist (in her mind, anyway) and didn’t appear onscreen until halfway through the series. (Ah, #DarcyDay. The memories.) Emma Approved shows us Alex Knightly interacting with our intrepid heroine in the first episode, and while they have major personality differences and like to give each other a hard time, it’s clear that Emma and Alex are good friends and have been for awhile. Their chemistry is of a different nature than Lizzie and Darcy’s, but equally appealing.
~ Emma and Alex don’t seem to have a significant age gap. I don’t know their history yet, but I doubt this Mr. Knightly has known Emma since he was sixteen and she was a baby, or has been love with her since she was thirteen and he was twenty-nine. Yeah. That was in the book. He said he fell in love with her when she was thirteen. I know, I know, historical context cultural differences blah blah blah, but HE FELL IN LOVE WITH HER WHEN SHE WAS THIRTEEN.
~ Completely unrelated to social issues, I like the name Alex way better than the name George. If your name is George, I’m sure you’re a very nice person and I mean no offense. But can I call you Alex?
~ I’m always a little nervous about showing excitement over this kind of thing, because I’m afraid it’ll be perceived as negativity or oversensitivity or overthinking or race-baiting or even reverse racism. All-white casts don’t take away my enjoyment of a good story. They really don’t. A heroine being white doesn’t take away my ability to identify with her or see myself in her. It really doesn’t. But there’s just something about the experience of having grown up as a girl of color obsessed with classic Western literature that I don’t know how to explain to someone who hasn’t shared that experience. I don’t know how to help you understand why this is such a big deal to me if you don’t already. But here it is…
The heroine in an adaptation of classic Western literature is a woman of color. Not the antagonist. Not the love interest. Not the sidekick. Not the best friend. Not the mentor. Not someone in orbit around the white star. The heroine. The protagonist. The person whose story this is. FREAKIN’ EMMA.
Ironically, although Emma’s mixed-race awesomeness is a huge deal to me, I’m counting on Pemberley Digital to make it a non-issue in-universe, much like they did with the multiracial cast in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. After all, the whole point of adapting Jane Austen’s timeless work into a modern update is that there’s something universally human about these characters and their stories that transcends race, culture, and time.
It started with Tumblr. It seemed every other post I saw was a joke about something called Night Vale. A very insidey joke. I deduced that there were characters named Carlos and Cecil and something about a dog park and glowing lights and angels and the NRA, but that was about it. After a few weeks of this, I finally had a novel thought: Google! Google could tell me what Night Vale was!
I discovered that “WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.”
A week or so later, I got around to playing the first episode on Soundcloud.
My verdict: Listen to Welcome to Night Vale if you like deadpan paranormal Lovecraftian comedy and obscure indie music. Don’t listen to Welcome to Night Vale if you hate scientists with perfect and beautiful hair, if you have no need to be apprised of the Angels’ activity, or if you have any intention whatsoever of letting the dog park enter your consciousness in any way, shape, or form.
Seriously, after I listened to a few episodes, I figured out why none of the fan posts I saw really explained what Welcome to Night Vale is. In the words of Glinda the Good, this series is “unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether impossible to describe.” So if any of this sounds remotely intriguing to you, check it out. Just DO NOT LOOK AT THE DOG PARK.